Whether you’re playing for your local Sunday league team or you’re coaching kids, there are essential items of training equipment you just can’t be without.
Of course, great coaches rely on their skill, intuition and experience to deliver both coaching sessions and team talks. However, there are certain items that enhance both, and they’re the same items being used by professional clubs around the world.
Check your club’s inventory to make sure these essential items are present — they could be the difference between coming second and achieving glory.
1. Marker Cones
Marker cones are ideal for setting up coaching boundaries in a hurry. Weather-proof, lightweight and easy to store, they can be laid out and put away in a matter of seconds. Look for packs of multi-coloured markers, which give are good for setting out areas for drills. The diameter should be a minimum of 15cm, and there should also be a handy storage solution included.
2. Training Bibs
Training matches are part and parcel of life at any football club, but players need to be able to distinguish teammates from the opposition if these sessions are to deliver maximum rewards. Look for vest-style bibs that are lightweight and breathable. You can buy training bibs individually or in packs of 10 — just make sure you buy at least two different colours!
3. Training Cones
Training cones are useful for setting the outer boundaries of a training area — and they’re obviously more prominent than markers. Most football cones are available in nine or 12-inch versions, and the best options are made with durable, pliable plastic. Look for cones that are lightweight and stackable.
4. Agility Equipment
Agility equipment used to coach coordination, speed and explosive power. And when used correctly, they can also develop lower body strength. These useful and versatile items of coaching equipment are available as ladders and hurdles, and they can be neatly packed away into a holdall within a few seconds.
5. Boundary Poles
Boundary poles are used to create slalom sprinting courses for football training. They replicate match conditions by forcing players to change direction quickly as they make their way through the course. Boundary poles can be bought separately, but they’re also available in sets of 12. They can be planted in turf or weighted down with dedicated bases.
6. Target Nets
Target nets fit onto existing goalposts, and provide several, clearly defined areas for precision shooting. They contain up to six different holes for the shooter to aim for, and can be attached to posts in seconds with the use of Velcro fasteners.
7. Tactic Boards
Tactic boards give a coach or manager a simple way of communicating team tactics during coaching sessions and team talks. Some are wipeable whiteboards with clearly defined pitch dimensions, while include magnetic pieces to represent players and positions. For on-field coaching, there are folders, planners and clipboards. The beauty of all these items is that they can be used repeatedly.
For pre-match and half-time team talks, choose a large magnetic board that can be fixed to a wall.
8. Coaching Session Planners
Coaching session planners give coaches various visual prompts for comprehensive training. They include blank diagrams of pitches for detailed planning, as well as sections for notes and reminders. Using one of these planners allows you to create coaching sessions in advance — so nothing is ever left to chance.
9. Free Kick Mannequins
Used by all the professional football clubs, free kick mannequins are used to recreate the classic defensive wall. There are versions that can be driven into turf or weighted down — both of which always return to their original position after being struck with a ball. You can also buy inflatable mannequins, which are easy to pack away and carry.
10. Speed Parachutes
Speed parachutes are relatively simple items of equipment that use the drag of air to increase resistance. A small parachute is attached to a harness that fits around the player’s body. The player must then run as fast as possible, while the parachute provides added resistance. This is a great tool for strength and conditioning work.
High quality items of football coaching equipment enhance training sessions, improve players and increase a team’s chances of success.
Malcolm Cox is a blogger, copywriter and journalist with a love of the beautiful game. He writes on a wide range of issues for online and offline publications, including UK-based football retailer The Soccer Store.